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Good Function, Long Life: A Simple Maintenance Plan for Your Self-Storage Security System

A Simple Maintenance Plan for Your Self-Storage Security System
When a spider takes up residence in one of your security cameras or your keypad buttons start to stick, it leaves your self-storage facility vulnerable to crime. This lack of care can also displease tenants, who expect you to keep the property safe. A simple maintenance plan will ensure your security system is in top shape.

Self-storage operators rely on many security components to keep their facilities safe and secure. The most common include burglar and fire alarms, access-control keypads, and security cameras. Ensuring good function is crucial to increasing the longevity of these systems and getting the best return on your investment. Routine maintenance can also help reduce or even prevent costly repairs. Consider the following to keep your equipment performing optimally.

Alarms

Many self-storage facilities have a burglar alarm to protect the front office and other buildings. When conducting a property walk-through, it’s important to visually inspect the door sensors and motion detectors. Knowing where these are located can help you quickly identify issues when there are “trouble” alerts.

Check with the alarm company at least once a year to verify the current list of contacts to be notified in the event of an alarm and the authorized users who can cancel a false alarm. This is also a good time to test the system with the monitoring company if there is one.

Check the fire-alarm status each time the burglar-alarm system is disarmed or put in “away” mode. This simple habit can quickly reveal issues. Vandalism, dirt, dust and other particles can compromise the sensors and functionality of your fire-alarm system and trigger “trouble” status. This can be remedied by a technician who can inspect, clean and test the sensors and replace any as needed.

A newly installed fire alarm doesn’t require much maintenance, but environmental issues may begin to cause some issues five to 10 years after installation. Systems more than 20 years old should be meticulously serviced. Most companies that install and monitor fire alarms offer service agreements to help routinely test and inspect the system to standards set by the National Fire Protection Association. The same vendor may also be able to inspect your fire extinguishers.

The Fence and Gate

Though fences and gates can keep criminals and delinquent tenants locked out of a self-storage property, it’s important to ensure these systems function properly. A well-maintained fence and access-control system will last longer and provide a pleasant user experience for customers.

Walk your facility perimeter as often as possible to ensure the fence is in good condition and hasn’t been compromised by vandals or nature. The line should be kept free from trees, vines or weeds that could cause the fence fabric or pickets to pull away from the posts. Any rust on the fence or gate can be cleaned and painted by staff or professional contractors to help reduce further corrosion.

Keypads

Visually inspect all your self-storage keypads to ensure they’re clean and easy to use. These can generally be wiped with a damp soft cloth to remove any dust or debris. Any labels or instructions for using the keypad should be clean and legible. If necessary, you can get replacement stickers or use a label maker to replenish those that are faded or worn.

Test all the keypad buttons, as some are used more frequently and can, therefore, wear out more quickly. For example, if the digits 1, 7, 9 and 0 show the most use, there’s a good chance someone could guess one of your tenants’ access codes.

Also, test your keypads with both a valid code and an invalid one to ensure it’s communicating with the system controller. If it isn’t registering with the system’s activity log, it’s time to contact technical support or a certified technician.

Finally, don’t forget about your keypad stands and protective bollards. These should be cleaned and painted when necessary, not only for aesthetics but to keep the steel from rusting.

Gate Operator

If you have an automatic gate operator at your self-storage facility, it should primarily be maintained by a trained, qualified service technician for the brand you use. In most cases, manufacturers recommend servicing the component every six months; however, there are a few things to look for to ensure the system works properly.

The area around the gate operator should be clear of debris. Things like plastic bags and other objects can get pulled up into the gears and bind chains on slide-gate operators. Any new and unusual sounds of squeaking, grinding or slamming should be recorded and inspected by a service technician. This is the gate telling you something is wrong, and whatever it is could eventually lead to a bigger repair. A tech should test the gate operator’s battery backup, reversing sensitivity, safety and other accessories to ensure they’re all working properly and meet Underwriters Laboratory 325 safety standards.

Cameras and Recorders

During your self-storage site walks, it’s critical to inspect your security cameras for signs of vandalism or anything else that could prevent them from delivering a good, clear view. Knowing where cameras are positioned will help you identify problems quickly. For example, tenants will sometimes adjust cameras to point straight up or down to avoid having their suspicious activity recorded.

It’s important that every camera have a clean lens and housing to provide clear images. Spiderwebs that are barely visible during the day can create a washout at night when the infrared illuminators turn on. This can be corrected by wiping the camera with a damp, soft cloth. If a camera is out of reach, try using a pole with a soft dusting attachment.

Inside the office, display monitors and other electronic devices should be dusted and kept clean. A buildup of dust leads to overheating and poor performance. The same is true for stacking user manuals or other magazines or newspapers on top of the camera-system recorder. A clear space around the system head and equipment ensures ventilation and helps it stay cool. It can be extremely tempting to lay the manual on how to review and save video on top of or next to the recorder, but it should instead be filed in a safe location.

Review your video footage at least once per month, if not weekly, to ensure you have proper login credentials and know how to use the system in the event of an incident. It’s also good to practice saving video so you’re familiar with this process in case you need to for the police, insurance company, owners, etc. Try to review and save a specific event you already know occurred and play it back on a home or office computer. For example, look for when the trash collector emptied the dumpster or the last facility walk-through. This gives you practice for searching the date and time and reviewing all the camera angles.

Keep a 30-day archive of your video (or longer) and ensure the cameras are saving pictures worth saving. A camera’s performance can vary from sunrise to sunset and with the infrared illumination overnight. Some video recorders have built-in automatic reporting that sends alert emails or notifications for trouble situations such as when a device loses the signal, the video archive is less than 30 days, or the system drops the internet connection. These automatic reports are extremely valuable for self-storage locations that aren’t staffed daily.

Mix It In

Your self-storage security maintenance can easily be mingled with other tasks such as your daily facility walk-through or lock-check routine. You might already be doing some of these tasks without knowing it! Getting in the habit of checking components helps you get familiar with them. It also helps identify any issues that should be corrected quickly, which prevents small problems from turning into larger headaches. Proper care is vital to ensure the system you use to keep your facility safe and secure functions well and lasts a long time.

Note: The information in this article is meant to be a reference point and should not supersede any maintenance or service recommendations you’ve received from a manufacturer or the local jurisdiction. Always consult the manual or warranty for your specific equipment, then contact your security integrator or provider for further assistance.

Todd McClure is a sales engineer for Pennsylvania-based Automated Security Corp., a nationwide supplier, installer and servicer of commercial security and protection products that specializes in self-storage. He has experience with installation, technical support, design and specification, project planning and project estimations. He has extensive knowledge in the integration and compatibility of various system technologies. To reach him, call 610.873.0067 or email [email protected].

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